Autumn Favourites

Autumn leaves in background and title text

Summertime is over It’s Autumn.Little side note, this isn’t a post where I gloriously praise products and new clothes, as truth be told I haven’t bought anything new in weeks – and I haven’t bought anything specifically because it’s Autumn. Instead, here I will bask in all this Autumn like and little moments of joy Autumn brings to my simple life.

  1. Darker nights. I don’t know about you, but something about those darker nights really make me feel cosier. Especially on a Saturday night, just sat on the sofa with the family watching crappy Saturday night TV and with some comfy pjs on. Ah bliss.
  2. The colours. No one can mention Autumn without talking about the beautiful colours of the changing seasons. The amount of stunning pictures I’ve seen on my Instagram feed alone is enough to warm anyone’s heart. Truly, it is a season that makes you appreciate nature that little bit more.
  3. Stew and dumplings. For me, nothing says Autumn is here like a bowl of homemade beef stew with dumplings and a slice of bread. That is food that is good for your heart.
  4. Hot chocolates. Nothing beats coming in from a nice Autumn walk collecting leaves, acorns, conkers and sticks with your little ones and then sticking the kettle on and having a nice hot chocolate.
  5. Getting the comfy clothes out. Summer is over, not like we have much heat here in England, but Autumn see’s the big cosy coat brought out, along with your boots and scarf. Can you beat getting wrapped up and going on a nice walk in the crisp air?

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Do you have a favourite thing about Autumn? Do you have any traditions you do in this season?

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Halloween Fun Facts.

Pumpkin back ground with a title header in centre

Halloween approaching at a scary speed meaning it’s appropriate to do a Halloween themed post (and my first Halloween post too). With the spooky holiday being Octobers main interest, I thought I’d do a bit of digging (nope not in the graveyard) and see how certain Halloween traditions we all know came to be:

  • Why do we dress up?: I’ve heard this before so maybe it’s pretty common knowledge, but I can’t do a Halloween post without bringing up the costumes. This originated from a Samhain tradition, which basically was a Gaelic festival to mark the end of the harvest and the welcoming of the ‘darker half of the year’. Back then they celebrated  New Year on November 1st, so believed that spirits of the dead were able to overlap with the living during the transition into the New Year. This is why they dressed up and impersonated evil spirits – to fool them into thinking they were one of them. I guess it just evolved over time and became the money devouring tradition we know today.
  • Why do we carve pumpkins?: There are a few different tales and versions of the ‘legend’ behind why we carve pumpkins but they all basically evolve around the same essence. Apparently, a village drunk named Jack, had a bit of a run in with the Devil and tricked him  – eventually when it was Jack’s time to leave this world and go on to either Heaven or Hell, he was turned away from both gates because of his trickery. The Devil gave Jack a lump of coal to light his way on his journey of purgatory – which Jack carried inside a hollow turnip (resourceful little fellow for a drunk). Once the story had been told amongst the villagers and locals, Irish families placed hollowed, carved turnips (some with scary faces on) in their homes to scare away Jack and any unwanted ghouls. When the holiday hit the United States, Irish immigrants realised that the pumpkin (native to America) was much better for carving – and so began the evolution of pumpkin carvings on Halloween!
  • Why does candy get given out on Halloween?: This apparently is based on the medieval custom called ‘souling’, which happened on All Souls Day. Early Christians made desserts and cakes, which were named ‘soul cakes’ to honour their dead. Children then went from house to house, offering to sing and pray for the dead loved ones upon receiving a cake (cheeky little monkeys even back in the day!).
  • Why do we say Trick or Treat?: This is a fairly recent tradition in the world of Halloween, first being mentioned around 1920s. Relating back to ‘souling’, children would go door to door, preforming little fun tricks such as telling jokes, reciting poems or singing, in exchange for a yummy treat. It then went on to become the request of a treat, in exchange for avoiding any annoyance to the house such as window soaping etc.
  • Why do we bob for apples on Halloween?: Now this one was a bit trickier to research as there’s a lot of speculation and arguing amongst historians about where and when it actually originated from, but this is just for fun so let’s not shy away. Supposedly it’s thought apple bobbing was related to fortune telling, originating in the British Isles. They believed that you had to catch an apple from the water in your mouth, peel it, pass the long peel three times around your head and then throw it over your shoulder, allowing it to fall to the ground and form a letter – which was the initial of your true love. I suppose it then got introduced into the Halloween festival maybe because of witch craft or something? Who knows, but it’s interesting to read!

Now I don’t claim that these fun facts are the absolute truth and reason as to why the many normal Halloween traditions of today came about, but I do think it’s interesting to read different interpretations and influences – seeing how these traditions have evolved and shaped the modern day festival we are familiar with today. Ending things on a Halloween note, here’s a 19th century ‘souling song’ that would have been sung for ‘soul cakes’ (extra points if you sing this if you go trick or treating this year):

A soul! a soul! a soul-cake!
Please good Missis, a soul-cake!
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us all merry.
One for Peter, two for Paul
Three for Him who made us all.

loll

Did you know where any of these ‘traditions’ came from? Do you know where any more originated from? Do you get involved in the spooky holiday?

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Homemade & Hearty: Slow Cooker Chilli for the Family.

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As you all are probably well aware, slow cookers are the new microwaves. They provide us with a quick, simple way to prepare a dinner for the family. I love using mine, but since hub-to-be had been requesting chilli for a good week or so – I thought I’d share my own simple recipe. I love recipes such a chilli as they are so cheap to make (especially when you shop on a budget like us) but still taste great, and what’s more they are perfect for this autumn weather. It’s best mentioning I have no qualifications/professions within this subject, I cook for fun and to feed my family – so I don’t claim to have the best recipe. Without further ado… here goes. My first food post!

Ingredients


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  • Beef mince (500g is enough for us)
  • 1 tin of kidney beans
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 green pepper (chopped into small chunks)
  • Oxo cubes (I add according to taste)
  • Tomato puree
  • Brown rice (we prefer this but white is fine)
  • Olive oil (to lightly cook meat before cooker)
  • Paprika seasoning
  • Chilli seasoning
  • Salt and pepper
  • Boiling water
  • Gravy granules

Method

  1. Lightly fry the mince meat in a little olive oil, careful not to brown too much. You just want to take some of the pink colouring off (tip: I like to add an oxo cube and a small amount of salt and pepper at this point)
  2. Add the chopped onions and chopped pepper to soften up for a couple of minutes.
  3. Put pan contents in the slow cooker
  4. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and kidney beans to the slow cooker
  5. Add a small amount of tomato puree and stir until together nicely
  6. Now add boiling water to the slow cooker (enough to just cover the ingredients)
  7. Add a couple of oxo cubes and some gravy granules to the pot (not so much to thicken just get, but enough for the meats to take in the beefy flavour whilst slow cooking)
  8. Add a little of the paprika
  9. Leave for a few hours (can be left all day if going to work, but as a SAHM I only leave it a few hours)image3
  10. Boil the amount of rice you need
  11. Just before you are ready to serve, thicken the mix with gravy granules to your preferred consistency
  12. Add paprika to taste
  13. Add chilli to taste (I don’t like spice and my 21 month old doesn’t have any, so I add this after I have divided it up so hub-to-be can enjoy)
  14. Serve in a bowl (it’s lovely with a small amount of grated cheese on top and a buttered baguette to dip)

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I do like to freeze any left over chilli, ready to eat on a night I just don’t have the energy. But if you are doing this, remember to make sure the food has completely cooled before freezing – and that it is piping hot before serving.

So there you have it. My homemade recipe for a nice, hearty slow cooked chilli for the family to enjoy. It’s great and simple to make in bulk if you have people over too.

lollWhat’s your favourite recipes to do in the slow cooker? Do you have any preferred seasonal meals?